The Kansas City Royals have named prospect Yordano Ventura as their fifth starter, as the Kansas City Star's Andy McCullough reports.
The 22-year-old has dominated the Cactus League this spring with a sort of Fire and Ice repertoire. His fastball regularly touches triple digits and he flashes a nasty curveball that has frozen several accomplished hitters at the plate. He has posted a 1.76 ERA in 15⅓ innings with 15 strikeouts and just one walk.
Ventura was listed as one of the top prospects in the game on almost every major top-whatever list.
The only real concern about him is his size. He's listed at 5'11, 180 pounds, so some scouts have questioned his ability to hold up as a starter. However, Ventura threw just over 150 innings over three levels of the Royals system last year, so expecting him to throw around 180 in 2014 might not be asking too much.
On the other hand, the Royals current management doesn't have much experience producing impactful pitchers from their minor league system -- Zack Greinke was drafted before Dayton Moore was hired in 2006. Of course, that doesn't mean they are destined to ruin Ventura, but they don't have as much practice bringing along young arms as most organizations.
With a full season in the majors, Ventura could be a strong Rookie of the Year candidate, joining Xander Bogaerts and Jose Abreu as the likely frontrunners in the American League.